Sunday, April 16, 2006

How to Board a Plane :: Asians Have It Right

Board a plane in North America, or much of Europe, for that matter (or memorably, once in Aukland, heading for the Cook Islands, and the pilot finally threatened to call security and spend the night on the tarmac if passengers didn't find a seat and sit in it), and you likely know the drill: Confusion, crowding and overheating. And that's just the boarding lounge.

Then they call the flight. But first, there's pre-boarding, which was fine when my kids were small and we got to go first. Though I stretched it out as long as I could, by the time the youngest was 12, we were getting funny looks from the staff.

Then there's a call for general boarding, by blocks of seats, or whatever method they choose. And no matter how many times the agents say to have boarding passes and passports ready to show, there're still those passengers who get to the front of the line, then seem surprised to be asked, and start rummaging.

Down the ramp to the plane we go, and join the log jam at the doorway, waiting to board. Not that the crew are holding us up, it's the passengers on board who stop to read every seat number, and finding theirs, stop dead in their tracks, and start sorting their bundles and bags.

Apparently it never occurs to them to step out of the aisle and into the row, to first let the people behind them go by, and *then* sort and stow their odds and ends. That they carry so many odd bundles and hog the overhead bins is a rant for another day.

I wish everyone one of these people would take a trip to Asia. China, say, Japan, even Thailand, for a crash course in how to board a plane efficiently so it can depart on schedule.

About 20 minutes before the departure time, passengers start to form a line: Single file, passports and boarding passes in one hand, and briefcases in the other. As soon as boarding is announced, they're off on a fast march down the ramp and onto the plane, into their seats and buckled in, glaring at tardy tourists who are following their usual routine.

Planes in China take off on time. They could everywhere, if all passengers would only do their bit.

All Packed and No Place To Go

Twenty-four hours from now, my flight should be fully boarded and waiting for take-off at Toronto's Pearson Airport. I am ready to go NOW.

With the 'forced' holiday days and store closings of the Easter long weekend, I used the time to get packed. Now I am ready to go, with a full day ahead of me and nothing planned. This is *almost* worse than being rushed and frazzled and stuffing things into bags as you leave for the airport, and panicking over things possibly forgotten. Now I have all day to second guess myself.

I think I will go garden and enjoy the day.

I will try to update from the 'road' in Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu, but I will be on the move a lot, with very full days in Hong Kong. And though this trip is part work, it's also part holiday, so I may as well enjoy the freedom from the iBook for a few weeks. I will be back at it soon enough.